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Subject - Macromolecular Chemistry

Surfactants are tensides. They are amphiphiles which reduce the interface tension (from the Latin tensio, tension).

The hydrophobic part of the molecule consists of one or more hydrocarbon chains containing eight to twenty-two C atoms. Specialized tensides contain Couldn't accept input INDEX ["dimethylsiloxane"]dimethylsiloxane or perfluorinated hydrocarbon chains instead.

The hydrophilic part of the molecule consists of ionic or polar groups. Anionic tensides, e.g. alkane sulfonates, contain anionic groups, cationic tensides, e.g. quaternary ammonium compounds, have cationic groups and suitable counter ions, and amphoteric tensides carry positively and negatively charged groups in one compound. Non-ionic tensides, e.g. alkyl polyglucosides, have polar groups at the hydrophilic end.

Tensides are used as surface-active components in detergents and cleaning agents, emulsifiers, wetting agents, antistatic agents, foaming agent and, depending on the compound, also as defoaming agent.